Tomorrow (Saturday) sees the start of the JJ Giltinan international championship in Sydney. And with a strong team of 25 boats on the start line, competition will be hot

A strong fleet of 14 Australian 18 foot Skiffs will find stiff opposition from 11 visiting teams from seven countries when the International Championship begins on Sydney Harbour tomorrow (Saturday).

Four previous winners of the famous JJ Giltinan Trophy, which has been raced for since 1938, will be competing – Australian skippers Trevor Barnabas (who has won the trophy on no less than five occasions), John Winning and John Harris, together with Tim Robinson from Great Britain.

Ten of the 11 visitors come from the northern hemisphere (the exception is the team from New Zealand), where it is currently the closed season. This, together with the fact that there are some new and unknown teams, makes current form very difficult to judge, which will make the opening heats particularly interesting. In addition to those who have won the trophy previously, the favourites will include Howard Hamlin from the United States and Robert Greenhalgh from Great Britain.

Seven heats will be sailed between the 5-13 January, with each boat’s best six scores counting for the championship.

The traditional spectator ferry will enable the public to follow the racing. Sydneysiders and visiting sailing enthusiasts can obtain further information about the ferries by calling the Australian 18 Footers League on (02) 9363 2995.